Cook lets fly on debut for England

Alastair Cook shrugged off jet-lag to hit a debut half-century yesterday but some lethargic shots from his new colleagues left England under par as the curtain opened on the Test series in India.

The Essex opener struck a cultured 60, hours after arriving on the sub-continent, as England closed on 246 for 7 at the Vidarbha Stadium here in Andrew Flintoff's first day in charge.

Cook had spent two days travelling, having been summoned from England A commitments in the Caribbean. The 21-year-old displayed the virtue of patience on a slow surface as rashness from others cost dear. Only Paul Collingwood, unbeaten on 53 at the close, and Flintoff, who shone for more than an hour, matched Cook's application.

Neither Cook nor Collingwood would have played here but for the chain of events before this match, which culminated in the captain Michael Vaughan and his deputy Marcus Trescothick returning home.

Cook, who struck seven crisp boundaries in all, eventually succumbed in the fourth hour of play when the left-armer Irfan Pathan arced a delivery from outside off-stump through the gate via an inside edge.

The tourists would have done better but for some injudicious strokes either side of lunch as Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell all fell. Geraint Jones and Ian Blackwell were the other batsmen dismissed.

Meanwhile, England are likely to discover the extent of Vaughan's and Simon Jones' knee injuries today. It was anticipated that the pair's meeting with the surgeon Derek Bickerstaff at Sheffield's Thornbury Hospital may have produced a significant update yesterday, but the pair were unable to see their consultant until later last night.

The captain is struggling with a recurrence of a problem in his right knee which required surgery before Christmas, while Jones twisted his left knee in a practice session as he prepared for the first Test.

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